Learning to forgive someone who has wronged you challenges people of all ages, but games on forgiveness for children help parents and teachers pass on this life skill. Forgiveness games illustrate the effects of holding grudges as well as helping kids practice the humbling task of asking for and granting forgiveness. The children discover through games that forgiveness is a necessary ingredient in their relationship with God and with each other.
Braid or provide friendship bracelets or string a simple bead bracelet for each child. Sit in a circle and tie the children's wrists to both neighbours using the bracelets. Have them stand up, exit a door, walk down the hall, get a drink and write their name. They soon discover that this is difficult when tied to others. Discuss how being unforgiving binds you up and makes it hard accomplish anything. Tell one child to pretend you offended him and ask his forgiveness. He should respond, "I forgive you" while you untie one wrist. He then asks for and receives forgiveness from his neighbour and unties that binding. Continue around the circle until everyone is free.
Trash Your Sin
Ask children to write on paper strips some sins that they have committed this week, such as lying, disobeying teachers or parents, or being unkind. Teach them to pray sincerely for God's forgiveness and role-play asking the offended person for forgiveness. Upon receiving forgiveness, the child wads up her sin, stands at a throwing line and tosses the paper ball in the dustbin to illustrate forgiving and forgetting.
Bearing Burdens Relay
Prepare several bags or backpacks full of heavy items, such as canned food or books. Line two teams up at one end. Give each child a burden to represent the weight of carrying grudges. If you do not have enough, station helpers at the goal line to return bags back to the waiting children during the race. Another helper at the goal line represents God. Each child carries his load to the opposite goal and asks for God's forgiveness who removes the burden to allow the child to race back burden-free. The first team to get rid of all their burdens wins.
Arrange for a teenage helper to "steal" the basket of colour crayons and run away. Another assistant apprehends her and brings her back. Ask the children what the criminal's punishment should be. Explain that in ancient times, some criminals were stoned. Pass out paper to wad into paper balls. Tell the children that if they think this criminal should be stoned, they can throw their paper ball at him. But before they can cast the "stone," they must write on it something wrong they have done. Ask again their feelings about casting stones at the criminal. Read the story of the woman caught in adultery and discuss what Jesus would do with the criminal. Have them tell the criminal that they forgive him but that he should not do it again. The criminal should reform on the spot, apologise and return the crayons.